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AD STARS 2019: A Mastery on Film and Southeast Asian Humor — Jureeporn Thaidumrong’s Living Legacy

When you think of Southeast Asian commercials, there’s nothing quite like the ones from Thailand: storytelling spun with a sense of humor that edges on theatrical, peculiar and sometimes just plain ludicrous. There are also those campaigns that tug right through the chest and leave lasting impressions (cue in the occasional tears on your cheek). And at the forefront of all these viral campaigns, we have Jureeporn Thaidumrong, GREYnJ UNITED’s Chief Creative Officer. 

Indisputably one of the most awarded and renowned creatives in the advertising industry, Khun ‘Judee’ — as she’s more fondly called by her friends and colleagues — has a career that spans 30 years of experience, her name is synonymous to numerous award-winning campaigns that reflect the weird and wonderful world of Thai humor and ingenuity. Judee has become one of the most powerful women in the advertising industry bringing home Thailand’s first Cannes Gold Lion and its first D&AD Yellow Pencil.

The multi-awarded creative first started out as a copywriter at DY&R Bangkok before joining Leo Burnett. That was just the beginning: Judee followed a career that would allow her to work in Far East DDB, Results / Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi and eventually open up her own agency, JEH United, which would then merge with Nude Communication as NudeJEH. 

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In 2015, NudeJEH joined WPP Network under Grey Group as GREYnJ UNITED where Judee currently leads as the Creative Chief Officer. Since then, the agency has given birth to several famously effective campaigns such as BarBQ Plaza “Fulfill”, “The Waiter’s Mom”, Nautilus Tuna “Break Up” online film and the award-winning viral campaign of KPlus, “Friendshit”.

This year, Judee was invited to be part of Ad Star’s Executive jury for the Diverse Insights, Outdoor, Public Service Announcements, Place Brand, Radio & Audio categories.

On assessing the body of work this year, Judee shares with adobo magazine’s president and editor-in-chief, Angel Guerrero, “There were many interesting works this year from all over the world. More and more creative solutions and ideas that trying to solve the issues we are facing — example: environment, gender inequality, human rights and political turmoil… As usual, some great works really stood out and many didn’t make it to the final round.”

On the flipside, ‘Friendshit’, a campaign created by GREYnJ United for Kasikornbank, has catapulted itself into one of the most critically-acclaimed and talked about pieces of work since last year at Ad Stars, Cannes Lions, Spikes, and even this year’s ADFEST. The ad, in its own quirky way, shows that making new friends in a new environment can be pretty nerve-wracking and awkward most of the time, but finding something in common with others, like using the bank’s K Plus app, can get the job done.

“Thai people embrace the aesthetics of film much more readily than the printed page,” mentions Judee last year, when ‘Friendshit’ won Gold in Entertainment Lions in the Online Fiction category, Gold in Film Lions in the Consumer Services category, and Silver in Film Craft Lions in Casting during the 65th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

They are addicted to film and also love making it. The stories in pop culture are changing every day, and the traditional model of making films to saturate the market for months or a year is out, as everyone is on a 24-hour social media cycle at best.”

Late last year, Judee and her team at GREYnJ United came back with another Thai masterpiece ‘FACE/OFF’, a hilarious follow up to ‘Friendshit’. Directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, three-minute commercial revolves around a K+ character who is perpetually confused as he watches his girlfriend Fern “update” dozens of times right in front of him while they speak.

The campaign created for Kasikornbank won the Grand Prix under the Video Stars category in this year’s AD STARS, as well as a Gold and Silver for Film and a Crystal for Diverse Insight.

Another campaign that also won several awards including a Silver for Branded Video, and another Silver for Film was ‘The Guard’ for Kasikornbank. The campaign was a quirky yet insightful way of tackling security problems, as cyber scams are on the rise.  As one of the leading banks in Thailand, Kasikornbank felt responsible to remind everyone to stay vigilant.

“Being a big brand in the global/regional/national market, you need to be bold,” states Judee, when asked about reality that purpose or cause-driven brand messages have become the marketing thrusts over product sell. Nowadays big brands can’t just try to sell their products by stating how good and awesome they are. Whether the purpose that drives the brand is to make the world a better place or to make the sales number a better performance, it needs to put consumer’s benefit in the middle of that purpose and being true in whatever the brand decided to be and do.”

“No matter how much the media landscape has changed, or how technology and data have been used and effected a lot in advertising business these days, ‘great strategic creative idea’ is still the key to success for every brand.”

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